Thursday, September 30, 2010

Impress the interviewer! How to answer the hardest job interview questions. ~Job interview FAQ

Ah job interview skills... we're in love with this topic. We love it so much we'll be honest: Though writers like us can draw more inspirations from resume writing for its complexity (it's easily one of of the broadest topics in the realm of career, what with the fact that so many questions can be generated from it), we prefer writing about job interviews just because... just because, well it's quirky. That is, it's open enough to be attacked in many ways. Resume writing is serious business and it leaves us no room for our rambling exercises: so unlike the discourse of job interview skills that calls for situational examples in order to be explained clearly -- that's where we get to inject our ramblings.

See the difference? It's not like we hate being restricted by rules, but as writers suffering from verbal diarrhea, let's just say, talking about the speaking phase of job hunting gives us 'better' favors in the preferences and ideas department. Yes, it's a matter of writing preferences. We're not saying all writers of career like talking about first impressions, answering politely and the concept of dressing to impress better than anything else. In fact, it's safe to bet a thousand that those that 'like it serious most of the time' prefer the writing realm over the speaking.

So much for the rambling favors ­-- what about the job interview aspect of job hunting is scheduled to be discussed today, anyway? You're getting good at catching us. And seeing through our rambles. If you've been paying attention to our website's activities lately, you know this. Our editors back @ have just featured another job interview expert on Career Advice -- we've received the ping yesterday. And so, here we go with the task...

Indeed, looking back is always good. While everything we've written about job interview so far is accurate, we can't help but feel ashamed of this resulting discovery: that these articles in question are very constricted to the topic of 'asking the interviewer questions too'. Not that it isn't a good career tip, but as writers of career, we should always be working under the principle of versatility, from the topics we choose to how we construct our words, right? Too much to write, too little time, as a popular expression goes. We've just discovered another shortcoming, so to speak.

Today we're addressing this shortcoming with the help of another career expert. Employers like using 'generic' questions to make the task of getting to know their applicants easier. And in today's job market where you're up against some serious competition, "saying the right thing can mean winning or losing that dream job." How should you go about the toughest in the staples of HR directors? Here's how you should do it according to Ms. Shelley Tilson, Manager (Commerce division) at Robert Walters. We've summarised her points for your easy understanding here. You can read the original article @

Why do you want this job?
What it implies:
Simple yet very tricky. This is to know your initiative and whether or not you're serious with your application. In the employer's perspective, it'll answer these:

  • Did you research about the company?
  • Do you really understand what the job position requires? Do you know exactly what will be expected of you?
  • Do you have goals? Are they inclined with what company desires?
How to answer:
Ms. Shelley has told us that being honest is the key. But as much as possible avoid being defensive. Start with a statement about how the job description fits your goals and skills set to a T and then say your reasons for applying. "A recommended answer to this could be: 'Having read the job description and having looked at your company website, the role attracted me as I feel that I have the suitable skills but I am also very interested in what additional responsibility I will gain'. "

Why should I hire you?
What it implies:
The company wants to know your competencies and skills. How much will your current skills benefit the company? In what ways can your additional skills help with the company's pursuits?

How to answer:
It's all about selling yourself, Ms. Shelley has told us. But don't be too pushy and construct the selling arguments by noting the job requirements and setting them against what you can do. "By looking at the job description that was given to you, try to point out your strengths by using examples of work you've done in relation to the requirements for this role."

What is your biggest weakness?
What it implies:
A negative question that will test your ability to stay cool and show how you react to stress in general.

How to answer:
Don't say ' no, I don't have weaknesses'. Find a way to turn the negative into positive, that's how. Ms. Shelly has this tip: "Look at the job description to hand and choose one required responsibility you feel you could improve on."

Why are you leaving your current role?
What it implies:
Another tricky question. Employers ask this to get a glimpse of your work values. What gives you satisfaction at work and what ticks you off?

How to answer:
The trick here is to focus on why the new role is perfect for you and less on why your current role is not, Ms. Shelley has noted. If the interviewer insists on your current role, word your answer to suit you favourably. Singapore admits that this question isn't easy to answer, so we suggest you prepare before you attend the interview.

Tell me about yourself?
What it implies:
Though it seems so, the employer isn't asking you to state your life story. Who are you as a person? Will your life values benefit the company or not?

How to answer:
"Cater the answer to the role you are applying for!", Ms. Shelley has told us. Introduce yourself by noting your quirks and how the new role is going to give you gold in the satisfaction department.

Where do you want to be in five years time?
What it implies:
A favourite amongst interviewers, this question is the same as 'Why do you want this job?' in terms of purpose.

How to answer:
"A suggested answer for this could be: 'I'd like to think I will be working for a successful organisation such as this but in a role with increased responsibility'", Ms. Shelley has told us. Another option is to tailor your answer to suit the specific role that you're applying for. Know the company structure and use that knowledge to your advantage. Applying for an Office Assistant Job? Tell that your aim is to be at an Office Manager Post in the future. Along that idea.

Do you remember 'The Right Answers to the Most Common Interview Questions'? It's an old article from Career Advice. You might want to read it as well.

It adds up that Ms. Shelley is also into the idea of asking questions to the interviewer! "Always remember that the interview is a two-way process so have a list of questions you can ask your interviewer at the end!" She's given us these examples:
  • What two/three key competencies are you looking for in a successful candidate?
  • How long have you been with the organisation? What motivated you to join the organisation?
  • What are the team like to work for? What are you like to work for?
  • Have you had an assistant in the past that you've got on really well with and what particular qualities would you insist on for your next hire?
  • Do you have any reservations at this point about my skills or experience? Singapore
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